Random Thoughts on Psalm 1 – part 3

“…Nor stand in the path of sinners,” – Psalm 1:1

How does someone stand in the way of sinners?  I think we do that when we are more concerned with someone’s behavior than their heart.  Condemning someone for their behavior, but not loving them makes you a stumbling block in their path.

Changing behavior does not change who a person is.  Somewhere along the way we believed that if we try really hard to change bad habits and lifestyles; and if we change them long enough and consistently enough, then it will change who we are on the inside.  That is a lie.  We know that doesn’t work.  We have all tried it.  We see the things we don’t like about ourselves and we strive to change those habits and lifestyles.  We might put up a good effort for a while.  But unless something is changed in our hearts first, when we are tired of the striving, we will return to those same patterns and end up feeling more defeated.

We need God to change our hearts to heal the things in us that have been hurt.  We need Him to bring truth to the lies that we believe about God and about ourselves.  We need Him to change us.  When that happens and God changes our hearts it will affect our thoughts, words, and actions.  Our behavior will change, but not due to our striving, but by our obedience and submission to what God is revealing to us and working in us by His power and for His glory.

So the truth is, that we can’t stop ourselves from being a stumbling block for others and forcing behavior modification on them until we make sure we were not striving after behavior modification to change ourselves.  You won’t give grace to others unless you are willing to believe grace for yourself.  We can’t give someone what we don’t have.

As Christ followers we have to stop going after behavior modification for ourselves and others.  That is the epitome of self righteousness.  A question I have been wrecked with lately is “Do I really believe that Jesus death was sufficient to pay for my sin?”  If I truly do believe that and I really believe in His power to change lives and hearts, then instead of being a stumbling block to those around me that are struggling, I can pray for them, become their friend, and help be a voice of encouragement to point them toward their only true healer.

Are we becoming a stumbling block in the path of those around us or are we coming along side of them and putting our arm around them and showing them a better path they can walk down?  They might not choose to walk down it with us.  That is where we have to understand that we are responsible to people, we are not responsible for people.  We can’t change anyone.  We are not their savior.

What we can do is love them.  Be full of grace and full of truth for them.  If all we have is truth for people, but no grace we can do a lot of damage to them.  If we have grace for people but we are never speaking truth to them, we can also do a lot of damage.  We are not striving after a balance of grace and truth, we are trying to love people well like Jesus did.  Jesus did not love people well because He found a perfect balance of grace and truth.  He didn’t try to measure them out equally.  He was full of both and loved people in that fullness because that is who He was and is for them and for me.

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